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Posts from the ‘Running buddies’ Category

A good run


Today I did something that I don’t normally do while out on a run: I ignored the time. My two running buddies and I set out for a 10-mile run with no given pace. In fact, we set out going purposely slow so that we would make it through the 10.

We stopped when we needed to, whether it be for bathroom breaks or Gatorade refills. We were in no rush.

My stomach didn’t hurt. I had no nagging pain. I paced myself. I watched my heart rate.

We finished, 20-minutes faster that our fastest 10-mile time together, but a finish nonetheless. We talked the entire time. And we had fun.

I started thinking that maybe THAT’S what has been missing from my runs lately. The stress and anxiety plaguing my runs has meant that I stopped having fun while I was running. Today I had fun.

Perhaps it was the good company. Or the overcast weather.


A missing sun is a very welcome thing for a runner after multiple weeks of hot days, especially a runner who has been dealing with overheating issues and a wonky stomach.

Today was a good day for a good run.

On privacy, protection and online identity

When I started this blog nearly two years ago, I had a grand plan to never reveal my name to anyone. My first post had a generic byline. The “user name” assigned to the main posting account was “… and she runs.”

I’m so original.

A couple months later, I changed it to “T.C.” I don’t think I mentioned anything personal, related to my life or my job, until about six months into the whole blogging thing.

Then I made a critical decision in terms of how much I would reveal on this blog. I decided that if I was going to write about my training, my personal life, my diet, my weight and everything else, I would do it by being completely transparent about who I was.

I’m writing about this because I had a lengthy Facebook discussion earlier this week with several other Sweat Pink ambassadors about this topic.

A lot of questions came up in the exchange.

How much should you reveal? Should you worry about your information getting into another person’s hands? When we publish blog posts, do we realize how people could read between the lines and find us?

For me the answers are a little more black and white than they are to some people.

I wrote my first newspaper column when I was 15. I wrote for newspapers for 10 years, my name, work phone number and email address were out for anyone who had a phone or Internet access to call me to do so. I also spent four years dealing with online trolls in website and social media communities. My husband once made the mistake of listing our home phone number, now disconnected, in the phone book. One of those commentors from the online community I managed actually once called me. At home.

Years before, when I graduated from college, a man approach me asking me if I was “the Tara Cuslidge” who wrote for the newspaper. As much as it was a little concerning, I never felt a need to protect myself. I wrote a column my first year of graduate school where I talked about everything from social topics to personal issues.

Transparency is the pinnacle of good journalism. It’s something I teach my students repeatedly every semester. It’s because of that I don’t hide behind a pseudonym on my blog.

But I’m not against it.

In fact, I specifically didn’t take my husband’s name professionally when I got married to protect him. He had the right to be a private individual even if I chose not to. It wasn’t until a paperwork mistake at the college I work at happened that anyone started using my full, married name on documents that find a way to the public eye. Only since I left my full-time journalism job have I started to retreat to a far less public role.

Would I reveal my name again if given the chance to start over? Probably not. But it’s hard to take it back once it’s out there. The Internet has a unforgiving memory. The cache is deep. I used to tell people who called and wanted stories removed from the website I worked on daily that “even if it goes away here, there’s no guarantee that it will disappear from the Internet.”

In the Facebook conversation, we talked about blurring photos, erasing bib numbers and other ways to protect yourself from online trolls or stalkers. Here are some of the things I took from our conversation:


Do people online know your name? Do they know what event you ran in last weekend? Do they know in what vicinity you live in? It’s easy to do a search online where someone can put together all those details and, in some cases, figure out your last name. If you’ve Googled yourself lately, you know what comes up (even if it’s just your results).

On that note, you should Google yourself. I know it’s cheesy and people feel weird about it, but it’s also a way to know if information that you don’t want online got there. I tell my students, once they start writing, to Google themselves once a month. For them it’s a safeguard against people stealing their content. But it’s a good habit to have.


I mentioned this today even though I’m guilty of it. I once got an email from a “husband of another racer.” It was only a couple months after I started blogging I wrote a race recap from the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. It is so crowded at the race, and always is, that I didn’t think anyone would recognize me. But I’d been blogging about it for a couple weeks. He sent a rather strange, kind of creepy email, about “seeing me” at the finish.

Yikes. And wow. I didn’t respond. It was too weird.

I’m guilty of posting numerous photos on social media sites of me still wearing my race bib. A word of advice: Don’t. It makes it THAT much more easy for someone who wants to find out who you are to do so.

I have noticed my husband doing some self cropping of me when I ask him to take post-race photos of me. He usually tries to only get my face, the medal and the top half of my torso. I never told him to do so, but I’m glad he does.


Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 6.02.22 PM

While a private domain registration is usually a recommended ay to prevent anyone from finding out information about who you are and where you are, you can also update your domain information and exclude the important tidbits.

Mine has my name listed, which is already part of the copyright information at the bottom of each page, but I purposely put in “XXXX” for other information and switched up the information for my address. Anyone can search to find out who owns your domain, which will likely lead them to finding out more information.

Just make sure you change the contact information for all four areas of contact, not just one.

Or just pay the extra dough to have a private registration.


Again, I don’t necessarily follow this guideline. I do, however, protect a lot of information about other people. I don’t call the See Jane Run ladies by their full names. I don’t say a lot about my husband, outside of the fact that he is incredibly awesome. In fact, I’ve gotten used to NOT putting information about him on my blog.

You know where I live? Fine. It’s a city of 80,000. You know where I used to work? Good for you. That one isn’t hard, I was there for a collective 10 years. You looked up my profile? Then you know my students are my biggest fans. Whatever. But I’ve blocked out my direct address in several photos. I’ve chucked photos of my Garmin immediately after I PRed because you can see my information in my RoadID.

I don’t want you showing up on my doorstep, or finding me at a local store. If we run into each other at a race, that’s cool. But please don’t stalk me. I’m not that interesting.


I list the races I’m participating in on my blog. It’s about community. I want people to say “oh hey, I’m running that race too!”

I don’t give details about where I am staying, who I am staying with, what I’m doing before the race or even when I’m going to the expo. Moreover, I don’t talk about the plans for my house when I’m gone. I don’t blog about certain details until after the fact. I’ve been told that my race preparations are all over the place. Some races that people assumed I’d travel for, I haven’t. Some that I should have stayed the night with before, I didn’t.

Notice again the vagueness?


A couple months ago, I posted an image that I had edited a name out of. My friend’s daughter made me an awesome poster at the Mermaid Run in Fremont, but she spelled out her entire name on it. I know my friend well enough to know she wouldn’t want a photo with her little girl’s name on the Internet.

When I color corrected it in Photoshop, the name was barely visible. Perfect.

But I also ask my friends if I can post photos of them. They know I have a blog. They also know if they run with me, they’re usually be part of it.

Let’s face it, photos like this would be kind of odd:


I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t post these photos if I had to blur my best friends out. But I literally ask for permission every time I take a photo now. Or, at least, I imply that it’s going on the blog. “I’m taking this for my blog,” I say. Sam, in particular, will usually tell me if I can’t post something. Jennie is a journalist. She knows the way I write for this blog. She gets it.

By the way, that Chico sweater is kind of a misdirection. I didn’t graduate or attend California State University, Chico. I was going to…but then my undergraduate institution gave me 24,000 reasons not to in the form of a nearly full-ride academic scholarship. The context of which is now you know I was an excellent high school student, graduating tied for something like 13th in my class. You know what? That information is available about me on the Internet as well. Back to the sweat shirt: I was glad when my then boyfriend, now husband decided to go to Chico State. Totally made the $50 sweatshirt he wouldn’t have never bought me worth it.

Also: If you search me on linked it, you likely know what school’s I attended and graduate from. See, there is so much information out there already.


Especially if you want to blur out your friend’s faces or a bib number you don’t want the world to see.


It’s easy to use. But I’m a big fan of finding more creative shots to use instead of making ridiculous Photoshop edits. A lot of bloggers also add watermarks to their photos. Just last month, a blogger’s images of her son were discovered on a blog about a fake child supposedly suffering from cancer. Just know that even if you have a watermark, your images will be taken by uncouth people.

When I worked at a newspaper we couldn’t stop the people taking our content. Sure, we ask them to take the images or video down, but sometimes, even after the warning, people would just come back and do it again. Anyone can do a screen capture. And a lot of people are very skilled with Photoshop and can remove watermarks.

I have images that were shared on Pinterest, which I have a button for. That’s fine. As a blogger, I accept that as a “cost of doing business” per se. But I’ve read that Katie at Runs for Cookies has actually had an advertisement for a weight-loss program use her “before” and “after” images. She was upset, if I recall the post correctly. I would be too.


This is the quickest way for someone to know where you live! It’s also one of the reasons I’ve stuck with DailyMile independently of Garmin Connect. I post my runs to the blog via a DailyMile widget. I don’t sync to Garmin.

  1. You don’t need to know my running routes exactly unless you’re my husband and I don’t come home.
  2. I don’t want someone “following” me on my run.
  3. When I run with friends, I don’t want their homes displayed.

That’s one of the reasons that when my friends and I started running together, we deliberately started our “path” nearly a half mile from one of our homes. The walk provided a good warm up and took us far enough way where people would be left guessing.


Contextual clues are everywhere. No matter how much you try to hide, you are likely going to slip at one point or another. I’ve actually seen this happen to even the most private bloggers. Just last week, I saw a blogger who usually goes by a pseudonym accidentally post a reply to a comment using her full real name.

Another blogger might put your name up on accident as well.

I once wrote a story that a man in the community I worked in didn’t agree with, for whatever reason. My tagline, the area displaying my phone number and email address, was left off the story. So the guy instead turned to the phone book. He called my grandmother. It freaked her out, especially because her address is listed next to her phone number in the phone book.

He called my grandmother. She gave him my work number. He then called me and told me how he called two other people listed in the phone book and found out that I was still a college student. It was “no wonder” I got it wrong. (For the record, the fact he disputed wasn’t wrong.)

In today’s Internet-driven society, there’s a likelihood that if you’ve ever participated in any sort of event, you’re on the Internet somewhere. We can protect ourselves all we want, but the issue remains. If someone wants to find you, they can definitely do so.

So be careful.


Bridging the gap to nowhere


I’ve written before about how I run in a very much “under construction” community. There are a lot of sidewalks that end with bright orange barriers. And streets that exist but haven’t been fully formed. There is also a bridge to nowhere.

At some point this bridge will cross over a main thoroughfare between the city I live in and the community I do most of my running in. But right now, it just kind of exists. In solitude.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at it, but it’s actually the steepest “hill” we have to run in the entire area.

Perfect for hill climbs.

My running buddy Sam and I set out to to two miles worth of climbs, or eight reps. The incline is gradual, but still an incline. We’d push up and then kind of let gravity take us back down. Each rep was about a quarter mile, so it worked out pretty evenly.


My Garmin was dead this morning. The result of me doing more indoor running, thanks to the bad air quality we’re seeing lately where I live, than outdoor running.

We would run to the fenced barrier at the top, because you aren’t allowed to cross the bridge at all, and then back down. To be fair, you aren’t really supposed to be on the bridge in general. Because it goes to nowhere. You can even see the “nowhere” in the shaded area of the map above.

The bridge just kind of stops dead on the other side.

We finished our reps pretty quickly. It took us maybe 30 minutes, with some breaks in between every couple hill climbs.

It accomplished a couple things. The first is that it conditions us to run up steeper hills, which we don’t have a lot of in our area. The second is that it gave us some “speed work” in addition to the long runs we both have in our schedules. I ran 10 on Friday because I wanted to do these hill repeats so bad.

That’s right. I REALLY wanted to do hill repeats. I’ve known for awhile that I need to add more speed work to my running. Hill training is kind of a nice way to add speed and strength.


Plus, I enjoyed some nice views from the vantage point (again, the highest in this specific community). This photo was taken on my last uphill, right before I made my way down.

The total moving time for the two miles was 19:53 for a 9:50 per mile pace. Again, we stopped for water every couple repeats, just because even at 7 a.m. it was already getting warm in the valley. Sam said we should do this every week.

I think the lights on the bridge to nowhere are on at night, so we may be able to repeat it in the evenings if we want. And it’s kind of nice that we make the bridge to nowhere into an actual bridge to somewhere for us.

Even better is that after two miles of hill repeats, my legs don’t feel nearly as bad as I thought they would. My incline treadmill training is working.

Jumping on the color-covered bandwagon


More than a year ago, I swore off the 5K distance. It’s not that I don’t have a love for 3.1 miles. I ran a lot of 5Ks in my training to run my first 10K in 2010. I nursed those 5Ks to that 10K finish, believe me. But I realized midday through 2012 there was no way I could run a fast 5K if all my training planes literally had my legs coming alive at mile five.

That’s part of the reason I have a love/hate relationship with the 10K. It’s actually more of a hate/hate relationship. I only run trail 10Ks now. Those are the only ones I feel “worth my time and effort.”

I sound like a pretentious runner. I’m really not. I just kind of gave up on the 5K and 10K being “my distance.”

And we all have a distance we claim as our own. For me, it’s the half marathon. Two years ago I never thought I’d say that. But in the past seven months, I’ve learned to master the 13.1 and make it my own.

So when my running buddies asked me to do a “color run” with them, I initially said no. Color runs are the new mud runs, you know. Everybody is doing them. But not me. No thanks.

I think my resistance lasted for about four weeks before my friend Sam sent me a Groupon deal for the July 6 “Run or Dye” event in San Francisco. It was at a really low price, one that might make me budge. Finally, I did. I actually opted to do a 5K color run over a six-hour endurance run. At least I’ll be done quickly, I told myself.

I’m not even sure what I’m getting myself into.

I’ve heard a mix of good and bad going into these runs. This one is untimed. I’m not even taking my Garmin. I am, however, taking an accessory that doesn’t usually make it into my running ensemble.

Yes. A tutu has been made.

It’s fitting that my June issue of Runner’s World magazine has a runner on the front getting splashed with corn starch-colors on all sides. It lists color-themed runs with zombie runs, foam runs and neon-light runs as a way to “have fun” for a 5K.

After months of serious racing (two marathons in a three-month period and a bunch of other distance races), I’m kind of looking forward to finding my fun again in a less serious run.

So I’ll be heading out Saturday morning with my running buddies and their children to San Francisco.

I had to buy a white shirt. Because I apparently don’t own any I can thrash. Though I’m told that the colors all wash off.


I kind of find it ironic that it says “live love color” and “lasting color” on the shirt when I intend to make it very, very colorful. I also found a pair of hot pink tights to wear, though on second thought I’m not sure if I really will.


I may not be digging the brightness on race morning.

I’ll also grab an older pair of my running shoes. I don’t plan on “running” this race at all. Instead, I plan on kind of slogging (slow+jogging=slogging) through it for fun.

Since this sort of race doesn’t put focus on the time, it will be easy to relax and slow down a little. The last time I didn’t focus on a race time was during a mud run a couple years ago. In that case, I couldn’t. I was stuck behind a line of people in a mud pit for about 20 minutes. My time for the 5K was somewhere around 54 minutes when I finished.

Less serious? Yes. Still difficult? Yes.

This run doesn’t include obstacles, which I’m actually rather thankful for. My core still hasn’t recovered since my January gallbladder removal. (It should be by now, but I’ve been really unmotivated to push myself in that area. I have even less motivation to bring my once-broken arm back to the form it was in, strength wise, when it broke.)

In any case, I’ll get to fulfill my only-recently discovered dream of wearing a tutu while I run. It’s not really a dream. I’ve just never figured it would be practical to do so. I mean, it will likely itch.


Doesn’t it look so much prettier finished? Maybe not. I think it kind of looks like a 1980s wedding favor. Long live Tulle.

I’m actually kind of nervous about how this is all going to go. I think once you’ve towed the line at a couple marathons, running takes on a different feel. As in: Can I approach a race without that competitive need to beat myself?


Or can I run a race with friends and not feel naked without my Garmin? Will I feel as if I still have a long way to go after I hit the three-mile mark?

I guess I’m going to find out.

So much to write, not enough time to do it


I’m having one of those “I WANT TO JUST LET EVERYTHING IN MY HEAD POUR OUT INTO MY BLOG” days. But I can’t.

My husband I got back from Six Flags Magic Mountain, after our trip to San Diego for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon this weekend, at about midnight last night. I’m exhausted. But my freelance boss is leaving for vacation later this week.

I’m buried in work until Friday. Then See Jane Run happens on Saturday.

It’s going to be a crazy week.

But at some point I’m going to have to write about my new personal record. I did it again. I ran faster than I did in Portland.

My time for Sunday’s half is 2:16:41. So close, yet so far, to 2:15. It’s so close I can taste it. In fact, I did taste it, for all of one minute, when the 2:15 pacer passed me during the run. For a race I didn’t think would get me to this goal, I’m pretty stoked at how it turned out.

But…more details will have to come later.

Going streaking? Or not?


Today is the official start of the Runner’s World Summer Run Streak. The magazine, and bloggers across the country, are challenging everyone to run at least one mile every day for the next 39 days. I have to admit, I’m always a little tempted by this sort of challenge.

But I never partake. I’m too commitment prone to do so.

Scratching your head? I’ll explain.

I have a deep-seeded loyalty in me that means I often give people, places, things, jobs even, too much of myself before I decided enough is enough. I never thought I could be “loyal to a fault.” This year, I learned that could be a “thing.” I’m way too loyal in some situations. My running is one of those things.


My runs are set up specifically through the week to help relieve stress and anxiety while still keeping me active and healthy. I have a pretty regular, albeit boring, plan.

Sunday: Long run

Monday: Tempo run for an hour (usually 5 to 6 miles)

Tuesday: A very steady six miler (at race pace if I’m training for a race)

Wednesday: Cross training (lately Jillian Michaels workout video)

Thursday: Six to eight miles

Friday: Rest (OK, this used to be my core day. Since my January surgery, I’ve been having a hard time making that happen again.)

Saturday: Tempo run anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half

I’ll be first to admit I don’t run every single day I plan to. My Sunday’s are pretty consistent with the long runs. Mondays are never a problem.

But I deviate from the path sometimes.

When I do run, I HAVE to run the specific run I’m supposed to run on the specific day. So much so that my running buddies know Tuesday and Thursday are “running” days for me. Ask me to do something different (another workout video included) on those days and the answer is usually no.

I’m committed to the plan. I’m also committed to longer runs.

I can’t run just a mile. A mile in, my endorphins are finally settling and I’m starting to calm down as a runner. Anxiety can make or break that first mile for me. It’s incredibly hard for me to get out the door or hop on the treadmill without my mind going to worst-case scenario. (Again, anxiety is fun folks. SO FUN.)


I need my rest days.

In being enticed by these “streaks” I stumbled across many runners who had “been there, done that” and came out OK. My favorite post is from No Meat Athlete where he actually lists all he learned from a 50-day run streak. Even if his post doesn’t sell me on running for 50 days straight, I love it. I love that he actually analyzes all the lessons learned in those days.

At some point I’m going to do a blog post on the “what works for me, doesn’t work for you” concept.

Today, I’m declaring rest days essential for ME. Maybe not for other runners, but definitely for me.

The gallbladder removal at the top of 2013 killed my mileage for January. It also made me re-evaluate myself as a runner. I ran more than 1,200 miles in 2012. It was an epic, record year.

I’m not on track to do that this year. I’m not forcing myself to run when I don’t feel my legs can handle it. I’m giving myself more rest days.


It also means I get to spend more time doing the important things in life, like hanging out with my dogs. Beau appreciates it.

I’m pulling back. And I’m running better for it. To me that’s huge. After three years of trial and error, I’m finally able to understand why this works for me. My body is just one of those bodies that needs extra rest to recover from the pounding and fatigue from running too many miles.


This is the biggest reason I haven’t jumped into running a streak. It’s touted as a way to get runners past the doldrums of summer when you’d rather eat large quantities of food at outdoor barbecues than lace up the shoes.

I don’t need that motivation. At all. I’ve never once cancelled a run because my husband and I want to go to a barbecue or hang out with friends. Instead, I restructure my schedule. I become a morning runner. It’s a lot harder than it sounds.

Yesterday was a case in point.

We spent more than seven hours hanging out with our good friends at their house.


So I ran in the morning. Eight miles. I adjust so I don’t have to choose.

I have multiple races I’m signed up for that mean not training is not an option. Despite the heat, summer actually turns into my best running season. I can rack up miles upon miles just because my obligations are so much less during the summer months (no school).

I don’t need the extra push.


That’s a question I can’t answer.

I can’t run every day for a month, let alone 39 or 50 days. It’s true I haven’t tried it, but I think I would overdose on running just enough to not make it fun anymore for me. Again, this is my personal preference.

I have friends who’ve done these “streaks.” When I mentioned I was toying with the idea of doing a run streak a couple years ago, a friend told me I would kill my joints and probably burn out before I ended the streak. I love that streak running has it’s own organization, the United States Running Streak Association, that has an article about “The Dangers of Streak Running.” Except once you read it, it doesn’t sound so dangerous if you just practice common sense.

But I’ve also seen the question come up on multiple forums recently with links back to the Runner’s World streak. The popular answer is that it’s up to you. You decide if it can work for you. You decide if you want to or need to streak.

For me the answer continues to be no.

A new PR in PDX: Part III (Race edition)


Finally! The race report! My apologies for this coming a couple days after the second part of this series. Yesterday I went to graduation for the community college I work for as a journalism instructor. This was the first time in three years I had students walking (many choose not to), so I was really excited.

But it turned into a very long day.

In any case, on race day Sam and I woke up at 6 a.m. The race began about .7 miles from our hotel two hours later. We knew we wouldn’t have to walk far. We also knew we could chill for awhile beforehand. I can’t say I had any “race day” nerves. In fact, my anxiety has become a lot better lately when dealing with larger crowds (hence, participating in graduation).

The good news? It had stopped raining. In fact, it looked to be a fairly nice day. The skies were a bit overcast, though. Perfect running weather.

We called down to the hotel front desk and asked for a late checkout. I know that seems like the most importune time to do so, but the desk clerk kept telling us we had to come back and ask. Finally, when we went downstairs to actually leave for the race, they told us we could check out at 2 p.m. That meant we could stick around for a bit at the finish.

We headed down in tank tops to the start. Sam needed water so we stopped at a little store along the way. But instead of buying regular water, she bought sparkling water.

Too bad we didn’t notice until AFTER we filled our water bottles up. Great, I thought, this is not going to be good for my already shaky digestive system.

It wasn’t too long after that we came into the main staging area. And stopped at my predictable pre-race hangout.


Hello portable toilets! This was the same race that offered portable toilets in a premium area for a discounted fee. We waited in line less than 10 minutes, so we really didn’t need them.

After our stop at the “Honey Buckets,” because that’s what they are called in Portland, we headed to my corral.


We figured the wait for our start, in corral 14, would take a bit. But they actually held us back a lot longer than we thought. I think seven or eight corrals before us took off before they finally started letting us move forward.

The corrals went all the way back to the Hawthrone Bridge, which we could run over as we made our way to mile five. The people seemed to stretch on forever.


Some people complained later on the event’s Facebook page that they couldn’t hear anything all the way back near the underpass. I can imagine why.

My Garmin has me making my way across the start line at 8:16 a.m.

And we were off…

Mile 1: 10:07 — I think the best thing I ever did was sign up for the 2:20 corral for this race. This is my starting pace. This is my comfort zone. I didn’t have weave around people like I do in later corrals. I think I found “my” corral.

Mile 2: 10:14 — The initial route takes runners along the shore past the second bridge we’d be crossing, near the finish. A lot of flat here, in this mile a small downhill.

Mile 3: 9:46 — This mile has a tiny, gradual uphill. I don’t know how I managed this number at all.

Mile 4: 10:37 — The climbs begin. Not significant, but not small either. I think my legs are always a little shocked when I start climbing. Here I came into the first water/Gatorade stop I walked through. I also downed my first Gu of the race (though I’d had one before the race).

Mile 5: 9:36 — Anyone ever tell you that Gu doesn’t work? It does! Plus, there was a nice downhill here that went a long ways toward this number. I think this race was defined by shorter uphills with longer downhills.

Mile 6: 11:10 — Which is likely why my IT band was starting to throb right in the middle of the race. I think a combination of sitting on the plane and worrying that my Tiger Tail would get confiscated by airport security added to this. I couldn’t roll adequately the night before the race. And I’ve been having a lot of issues with my IT band lately. (Though I have to say, a full Smartwater bottle worked really well as a roller.) This area was the most boring part of the race, through industrial and port areas.

Mile 7: 10:58 —The biggest hill begins. And it was no joke. I ran as long as I could before starting a brisk walk uphills. Not as steep as a San Francisco hill, but fairly long.

Mile 8: 12:10 — The biggest bulk of the hill was in this mile. This would have been longer without the small downhill at nearly the top of the hill. I realized, after I finished this hill, that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. What’s happening to me? I took another Gu.

Mile 9: 10:59 — We start making our way through cute neighborhoods where children are giving high fives. Lots of nice houses. People cheering with cowbells.

Mile 10: 10:33 —I felt like the Gu was starting to kick in. My leg, at this point, is really bothering me.

Mile 11: 11:07 —This was my wall. My leg hurt. My stomach was starting to flutter. I wasn’t even considering time. I felt like I could “walk it in” and still be OK with it.

Mile 12: 10:30 —And then something happened. I can’t explain it without mentioning that it’s something new. Ever since I had my gallbladder removed, I’ve had this ability to REALLY pull deep within myself. I look at my watch now and realize something else is happening: I’m running a 2:20 half marathon. On a tougher course than Oakland. I’m an honest-to-God 2:20 half marathoner. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

Mile 13: 9:56 — So I ran. I ran like I’d never run before. Because suddenly I didn’t care about my weight, or the cupcakes I ate, or my job, or the plane trip home or the fact that I was surrounded by thousands of other people. I hit the final downhill conservatively and then used everything I had stored in me to push to the finish.

.19: 1.41 (8.47 average) — The truth: I have never, not in any race I’ve done, pushed that hard to finish. I wanted it so bad. If I was two minutes off a PR? Whatever. I probably wouldn’t have. Maybe I would have. I don’t know.

Official time: 2:19:23

If I said I wanted to cry, I’d probably get teased because that seems to be a thing for me lately after races. It’s hard, though, to put into words what training for three years, non-stop, without achieving any sort of new PR for six to eight months at a time can do to a person. I was failing in my races. I had one good one last August. Everything else was just blah. I never found the passion to push forward like I did that day.

Not until recently.

I ran a 2:19:23 half marathon. Oh my God. I don’t know who I’m becoming. I’m completely serious.

You’re probably wondering what’s changed, outside of the missing gallbladder. I’m prone to hyperbole, but my answer now is honest: Everything.

Every damn thing about my life has changed. For the better. And the running? It’s just coming along for the ride.


My mom texted me soon after. I told her. I tried to call my husband who never picks up his phone. Then I went and grabbed as much food as I could and headed to find a spot to wait for Sam, who was making some good time of her own compared to her experience in Pasadena earlier this year.

I bought myself the obligatory PR shirt. I buy one for myself after every race I PR at. It’s kind of my deal to myself since I promised myself I wouldn’t intentionally buy running clothes for awhile. The PR shirt is different because I always feel like I earned it.

And at that point I was dumping heat. Know how you know you had a good run? You dump a ton of heat within 30 minutes of finishing.

When Sam finished, we hung out for a little bit. But I think we both wanted a shower more than we wanted to sit around and wait any longer. That said, we did try to visit Voodoo Doughnut for a second time that day only to be left empty handed again. Instead, we headed back up to the hotel.We did stop and ask a nice guy to take our photo.


Because nothing says friendship like being wrapped in space blankets with a ton of excess freebies between you. And race medals. Of course race medals completely say friendship.

And remember I mentioned the sparkling water? I barely drank out of my water bottle. This was one of the first races I really relied on the water stations. But it was cool outside and still overcast when I finished. I can’t imagine what I would have done if I needed the 15 ounces or so still left in my bottle. (I know I could have poured it out and started over, but I was too busy PRing.)

The rest of the day focused on two things: 1) Finally getting Voodoo Doughnut (which we did) and 2) Getting back to airport to fly out of Portland.

Had we of known Portland a little better, we would have not walked multiple extra blocks to the train station. It was my fault really.

Earlier in the day, after the half marathon, I literally told Sam where our train stop was to get back to the airport. And then I proceeded to forget it completely. And walk us around in circles.

By 5:10 p.m. we were heading back to the plane en route to Oakland.


Ladies and gentlemen, we went the route of the H-O loading doors. Again with my juvenile humor. I’m not sorry.

It felt nice to finally relax on the plane, even though I knew by the time we got back to Oakland an hour and 55 minutes later I would be all cramped up and lucky to walk.

But I kind of feel like, in a way, my luck has returned a little.


I got to go to a beautiful city for a race. I got to run my first out-of-state race. I got to hang out with a friend. I didn’t pay sales tax for more than 24 hours. I ran a solid race. I had an amazing time.

In two weeks I run Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego. I’m excited for that one too. Even if I don’t PR, I’m excited because lately I’ve just felt lucky to race. And lucky to run.

Something is definitely happening to me.

A new PR in PDX: Part II


So I mentioned how Sam and I made our way to the expo with a very expensive cab ride. We wanted to get out of the cab so bad, as to not incur any more charges, that when the cabbie asked us where we wanted to be dropped off we said “here!” the moment we could get out of the car. That’s how we ended up in a different expo hall that we should have been.

A gun and knife expo. This was definitely uncharted territory for me.

I was confused. Sam was interested. But it cost $10 to attend. If it hadn’t of cost anything and if we had not just taken a $40 cab ride, I bet we would have gone. I could have at least taken a lot of photos for my husband.

“Where is the runner’s expo?” Sam asked a very nice security guard. He smiled, because he’d obviously been asked the question numerous times during the day. He pointed us out another door and through the parking lot.

The hall for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon’s expo was far larger than the smaller one we’d walked into. We were greeted by cheerleaders. Very happy, jumping-up-and-down-type cheerleaders. The good thing about Rock ‘n’ Roll expos is that they are well-oiled machines. There is little or no deviation from one to the next, outside of the addition of one of two things here and there.


The nice thing is that it means you can usually get through the main check-in area pretty quickly. Sam and I were done picking up our numbers in about five minutes. We were also given “Run Now” bracelets in honor of the Boston Marathon. We headed over and grabbed our race shirts, which were a nice gray color that kind of matched the weather conditions.


I’ve noticed that the race shirts for the Rock ‘n’ Roll series races have started to be a lot nicer. I actually want to wear them now as opposed to the first Rock ‘n’ Roll race I ran where I was handed a unisex shirt that was basically way to big for me to even bother taking out of my closet.

I particularly like this one and one from the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon last year. My Pasadena one is kind of so-so in terms of design, but it’s red so I like wearing it when I run in the evenings.

As with all the Rock ‘n’ Roll expos, you exit the main check in area and then go right into the Brooks-sponsored merchandise. Sam normally HATES this part. It’s all overpriced and, since we already got a race shirt, it’s usually full of things we absolutely don’t need.

That said, something was different about this race expo.

The moment we walked in, we noticed a strange carnival-style set up.


Brooks had a huge area dedicated to its “Cavalcade of Curiosities.” To say we were curious would be an understatement. We kind of stopped right in the middle of the expo and tried to figure out exactly what we were looking at. In all our previous Rock ‘n’ Roll experiences, we’d never stumbled upon anything this grand in the merchandise area.

A guy handed us two cards to fill out, which we did, and then told us to head to the prize area and see if we won something. Everyone was guaranteed a prize, he added. Plus, after the noon “show” we could stick around to see if we’d won a pair of Brooks shoes.

Sure enough, we walked over to the booth and handed our tickets over to a Brooks representative, and were each given a prize. Sam won a red T-shirt. I got a Brooks Run Happy bandana.

It was nearing noon, so we stuck around for the “show” not really knowing what it was.

It was pretty amazing.

That’s my edited version of the 15-minute show that was part fun, part marketing pull for Brooks shoes. My trail shoes are Brooks. I run, primarily, in Nikes. The one time I switched to something else, I tore up my feet. I never broke my pair of Saucony Hurricane 14 shoes in. I ended up giving them to my mom instead.

So I wasn’t convinced. Sam wanted to check out the Brooks, though. So we did.


It was around this point Sam declared this the “best race expo ever.” She even looked up where the “Cavalcade of Curiosities” traveled to. Not one stop was in California. That was surprising if only because California hosts a lot of races, including many Rock ‘n’ Roll races.

One thing we both had done was a gait analysis. I wish the video that was sent to my email worked, but it doesn’t. The Brooks representative had be run barefoot on a treadmill. I’m a overpronator. That’s why I’ve always run in stability shoes. My stability shoes started out exactly as they sound, kind of clunky with a big sole. When Nike moved into the Lunarlon padding and discontinued my Nike Equalon’s, they also moved into prettier shoes.

All that said, I now see how I overpronate thanks to the analysis. My right ankle bows out a little when I run. It’s not severe, but it’s noticeable.

See how jam-packed this expo was? We weren’t even out of the Brooks main merchandise area yet!

When we decided to leave the area, we came across the the Brooks fortune teller. She told our running fortunes for the next day.

In total, we spent more than an hour in that one area alone. When we finally got out to the main merchandise floor, Sam and I even purchased lightweight running tank-tops with the race name on them.

The rest of the expo was just as filled. Our stops included numerous food vendors, including getting free regular-sized Chobani yogurt samples, and finding other runner knick-knacks along the way. Sam recently got a new phone that doesn’t fit inside her Nike water belt. So she found a new belt that expands to probably 10 times its size from the Hippie Runner booth.


This was also a more densely-packed expo than we were used to as well. Sam always tries to get in the tape line, to get her knee taped, but it’s usually ridiculously long. Even with only 10 people or so, it ALWAYS takes forever. Sam, like me, is impatient when it comes to that stuff. So she got out of line.

While she was in that line, I was in another one. But mine went by quickly because I was waiting for Kara Goucher to sign my race bib. You know how fast she is when she runs? She’s also that fast signing bibs. And that’s not to say she didn’t spend time with me. She signed bibs or other race items, then took photos with nearly everyone.


Because Kara Goucher is amazing. And I’m pretty sure her signing my bib made me a better runner during the race. At least it propelled me to do my best.

After more than two hours at the expo, we decided to call it a day and hit the train into downtown Portland where Sam had booked a hotel for herself when she registered. I’m thankful she let me crash with her and I didn’t have to get my own hotel room.

Our trip on the Tri-Met was about 30 minutes. We got off at a street called “Couch” but pronouced “Cooch.” I’m pretty sure I nearly died laughing when I heard the train’s automated voice say that. (I know, pretty juvenile of me, but whatever. It WAS funny.)

We checked in and then headed down to Voodoo Doughnut for our first of three stops there where only one ended in us getting doughnuts. That will get its own blog post later on. By then, it was raining. And the rain just kept getting worse. And worse.

It was about that time we realized we were also very hungry, so we walked back up to the area near our hotel called the Pearl District (or at least that’s what many of the signs said). There we stopped first at a fun place called Lardo, but the menu was all sandwiches. Instead, we found ourselves in the bar area at Jake’s Grill Seafood Restaurant.

And we were starving, so much so that we both ordered an appetizer.


The bruschetta was just what I needed, despite the fact that the cheese didn’t really have any taste. I then ordered a $4.95 cheeseburger and fries. I have to say it was the best $5 meal I’d had in a long time, exactly what I needed.

I also had a margarita. And a mango mojito. Before a race. I was living dangerously.

After dinner, I made Sam head to a fancy cupcake shop. Because I’m all about the fancy cupcakes.

Outside of the fact that the staff completely ignored Sam when she was hoping to order to, the cupcakes were pretty good.


I ordered six cupcakes. Six. Probably because I’d had a couple drinks and was convinced it was a good idea at the time. It was, actually. But I kind of regretted it the next day when I had to take four of those cupcakes home to California. I was literally stuffing cupcakes in my Voodoo Doughnut box so I could limit my number of carry-on bags.


Confession: I was not a fan of the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. But the butter cream frosted ones with sprinkles on them were amazing. I ate the last one yesterday. I tried to savor every bite.

Once we got back to our hotel, Sam was exhausted. She had an ear ache from the plane. The moment we got to downtown Portland we had to find her some antihistamines. By the time we were done with dinner, the pills were really starting to work.

That means we actually got into bed at an early hour. So early it was still light outside, which my husband said is because we were in the Pacific Northwest. It was about 9 p.m. when I decided to turn in too, because I was feeling the impacts of a long travel day too.

Surprisingly, we both slept well. And were ready to wake up at 6 a.m. the next morning to Rock ‘n’ Roll our way through Portland.

A new PR in PDX: Part I


The trip to Portland marked a lot of firsts for me — specifically it was my first time in another state for a race. It was also the first time I flew to run. It was the first time I took a cab (that cost a ridiculous $40 to an expo). The first time I walked to a race start (and back). That’s a partial list.

There are a lot of races in California. Included in that are a lot of Rock ‘n’ Roll races. But my running buddy Sam, who I’ve done seven half marathons with, bought the Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour Pass this year. She’s getting her money out of it too. She had this race on her schedule. I was considering it, but then backed out after I left my full-time job in January.

Then she told me about an awesome deal on air fare. And I booked my trip. Simple as that. I wanted to run. And I wanted to run out of state for once too.

We’d talked about it for the two months we knew we were going. When the day came, I don’t think either of us could contain our excitement. And yes, I was more excited than anxious for once in my life.

For that reason, I’m doing something I don’t normally do — I’m splitting my race report into three sections. This post will cover the travel to Portland. The next will be the expo (because it included a lot of things that made it deserving of it’s own report). The last will be the actual race.

There will also be a lot of photos.

She picked me up bright and early to head to Oakland International Airport on Saturday morning.


Bay Area traffic is rarely bad on weekends. At 7 a.m. it moves along nicely. After a quick stop along the way, we got to the airport with a lot of time to spare and chill for a bit.

Security wasn’t even that bad.


I always wonder how many people actually check in at the desks at airports these days. Especially for quick flights. We had carry-on baggage, so we didn’t need to bother. I think when we walked into the airport there were only about 50 other people around. The line to get scanned and checked was about 15 minutes.

Lucky me, I was selected for a pat-down on my left side.

By 8:50 a.m. we were boarding for our 9:15 a.m. flight. Another first for me — I had never boarded a plane on the tarmac. It was so bizarre walking down the connector and then going outside, down a ramp and then boarding the plane via another ramp.

The small plane was packed full of people. I don’t think there was one seat empty. Sam and I, even though we bought our tickets at different times, were lucky enough to be able to sit together.


Everyone needs an excited plane selfie, right? We settled down for the nearly two hour flight with a couple magazines and good conversation. That included making sure we were up-to-date on the appropriate way to escape the airplane just in case of emergency.

I guess I’m a little strange. I read these every time I get on a plane.


One picture showed how not to drop a suitcase on another passenger’s head. Apparently some people need to be told that.

Since we were flying north, I was able to snap some amazing photos of San Francisco. I’m always amazed that the seven-by-seven block that is the city can be covered in a marathon (which I’ll be running now in less than a month if my IT band doesn’t act up).


I always love how it can be cloudy in some parts of the Bay Area and then bright and sunny in others. When I live in Oakland and went to school in Berkeley I used to love climbing to the top of campus and looking down at the vast puzzle that was the Bay Area.


I loved this shot of part of the Golden Gate Bridge. You get a great view of Fort Mason and Golden Gate Park too.

I’d never flown Alaska Airlines before so I was a bit surprised when the drink and snack choices included beer and wine. Yes, even on a 9:15 a.m. flight. OK. I’m saying for the record that I’m not typically a lush. Not even close. I’m usually the designated driver, especially since I had my gallbladder removed.

But it was two days before my birthday. And I felt like I deserved some wine. Even though it was red wine, which I’m not usually a fan of. I’d like to think I wasn’t the only person on the plane opting for early wine.


Red wine, Biscoff cookies and a rumor-mill Hollywood magazine. I indulged myself a little. Maybe a lot. I had two other drinks during the day. For dinner, I ordered a margarita and a mojito. I’m not sorry. Not even close.

When we arrived in Portland, we were immediately greeted by cloudy skies.

I was warned to expect this. I was also sure when I checked the weather report it said clear skies this weekend.


This was before we landed in Portland proper. I kept marveling at how green Oregon is. I know that California has pockets when it’s lush and green, but we’ve suffered from a severe lack of rain this year. We had a little a couple weeks back, but the span of ranges between where I live and San Francisco is still mostly brown.

Oregon was all green.


I knew, as soon as we went through the clouds and down into Portland, that one of us should have brought an umbrella.


Fun fact: At PDX passengers are allowed to embark the plane from the back and front. That rocked for Sam and I since we were in seats 17A and 17B. No waiting! In this photo, you can also see the ominous rain clouds. And puddles on the ground.

Unlike the Bay Area, that wasn’t a fog layer. Those were rain clouds. I ran a very hard California International Marathon in the ran. For 18 miles it poured and poured. I was hoping (and saying a silent prayer) that I wouldn’t have to do the same for my first out-of-state race.

It didn’t take long for us to pick up our belongings and head out to the terminal.


PDX is an incredibly nice and easy to get to airport. And right when you get by the security entrance there’s a Nike store. (There was also a guy waiting with a Nike sign and a name, which was pretty cool too see.) I didn’t partake in the Nike store, since we were heading to the expo.


Next thing you know we were heading to a cab en route to the expo. What we didn’t know was that the cab ride would cost us $40 because the cabbie decided to go out of his way and make the trip longer than it should have been. (You live and learn, right?)

The best part is that we didn’t initially walk into the expo we were supposed to be at. Instead, we walked into a knife and gun show…

A positive Portland experience

This is not an official race report, though one will come. Instead, I’m excited to share some very amazing Portland moments for the time being. There was so much to see and do in such a short period. We were in at 11 a.m. Saturday and flew out the next day at 5:20 p.m.

A quick trip, but an epic one too.


We used public transportation to get around most of the city, but did a lot of walking, which meant we were warmed up and ready for the run. The sites were stellar. We definitely saw a lot of interesting things. We walked by Powell’s Bookstore a couple times. It was packed.

We saw numerous “signs” that made me want to snap photos. Too bad I didn’t have my phone out for many of them.


And Portland is certainly one of the quirkiest places I’ve ever been. It was my first time in Oregon and while we didn’t get to stay that long, by the time we were finished we kind of knew our way around. At least enough to get us back to the airport.

Our hotel was less than a mile from the start line. It was all about old Hollywood.


That was the rotating photo display that greeted visitors in the lobby. The room was really, really tiny. Kind of uncomfortably tiny for two people (to be fair, when Sam booked it she didn’t know I was going too, so that’s acceptable). We had to ask multiple people, three different times if we could get a late checkout.

They finally agreed and we got to shower before heading to Voodoo Doughnut, which will eventually get it’s own post and then do a mad dash to the airport to head back to Oakland.


A sneak peak, above, at the awesomeness that was Voodoo Doughnut

The best part of this whole trip? I went into this run saying it was going to be a solid training run for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half and See Jane Run in coming weeks. I walked away from it with a new personal record. For the second time in three months.


I ran a 2:19:23. I broke 2:20 in a half marathon. Finally. I knew I was so close to it as I came down the final stretch. I booked it to the finish. I don’t think I’ve ran as fast as I did since I played soccer in high school. I flied to that finish.

After I get caught up on some freelance work and finally get my thoughts settled, I promise a more detailed race report. One with all the details about travel and how awesome the run was. I think, by far, this was my best pre-birthday weekend ever.